AstraZeneca and Barclays both survived shareholder rebellions over executive pay with Standard Life one of the most vocal critics.
A massive 38.5% of shareholders voted against the pharmaceutical giants’ remuneration report while 24% attempted to block Barclays’ bonus pool.
Standard Life, Barclays’ sixth largest shareholder was among the most vocal critics of the bank’s decision to increase its bonus payouts following a year in which it has seen its profits drop and had to come to the market to raise £5.8 billion.
‘We did not take this decision lightly but, on balance, believe this was the right thing to do,’ said Alison Kennedy, governance and stewardship director at SLI.
‘We appreciate that there were competitive pressures during 2013, particularly in the investment banking business and that the board was seeking to protect a business franchise under threat.’
‘Nevertheless, we are unconvinced that the amount of the 2013 bonus pool was in the best interests of shareholders, particularly when we consider how the bank's profits are divided amongst employees, shareholders and ongoing investment in the business.
‘The dividend was unchanged in the year and an additional £5.8 billion of capital was raised from shareholders. We also believe that this decision has had negative repercussions on the bank's reputation.’
It is understood that Standard Life also voted against AstraZeneca’s executive bonus award, which saw chief executive Pascal Soriot receive a £1.8 million bonus on top of his £1.1 million basic remuneration after pre-tax profits fell by 57% in 2013.